Matthews History & Preservation

Matthews: A Brief History
Matthews was first known as Stumptown, probably because of the remains of the forests that covered this section before it was settled. It was said that a wagon couldn’t make a U-turn because of the many stumps. The name changed to Fullwood for Mr. John M. Fullwood who operated the Stagecoach Inn and became the first postmaster in 1825. In 1874 a railroad was built through the town connecting it to Charlotte and Monroe. The name was changed to Matthews in honor of Mr. Watson Matthews, a director of the railroad. The town was incorporated in 1872 and the first census in 1880 showed a population of 191.

As cotton farming covered the South around the turn of the century, these small towns flourished as suppliers for the farmers’ needs. Heath, Barrett, & Grier operated a large store at the street corner where the Matthews Mercantile building now stands. Renfrows & Funderburk Brothers set up business across the street. Both businesses operated cotton gins. Other general and grocery stores and markets catered to the local and community trade. Both Chevrolet (Renfrow) and Ford (Benton Brothers) dealerships operated for several years until the Depression cooled the economy.